Last week we reported on the eviction of the nation's largest urban farm in South Central LA. Unfortunately a full fledged eviction started Tuesday morning June 13th.The bulldozers moved in, trees are being cut down and the tree sitters are being removed. It's sad to see resident farmers and families lose the fight for their beloved farm, but when you don't own the land, unfortunately you can't make the rules.
The community is holding nightly candle light vigils to show their strength and support for the preservation of their farm but I am not sure how long this can go on with the destruction of the farm. It’s sad that the land owner Developer Ralph Horowitz and the farmers could not come to a common ground and accept a last ditch offer $16 million from the Annenberg Foundation (which is probably well above what the property is worth).
Initially Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office was able to raise $6 million in donations to purchase the property. Horowitz however wanted $16.3 million to sell the site.
The Annenberg Foundation announced last week that it would offer $10 million in cash with an agreement to finance the remainder of the $6 million. Horowitz rejected the offer. Upset at the way he’s been vilified by the farmers and their supporters, he demanded the farmers removal at 5am on Tuesday morning.
In a phone call by Mayor Villaraigosa to Horowitz, the Mayor stressed his support for the Annenberg Foundation’s offer. Horowitz said that the land was worth even more now and that he wouldn’t sell to the farmers because of their ungrateful attitude.
The Mayor said to reporters, "I told him that from my vantage point, this is a more than fair offer. This is an opportunity for us to have an urban garden in the city that wants to be the greenest big city in America," Villaraigosa said. "And he said, well, that was nice but he wasn't accepting."
The Mayor went on to say, "I understand a businessman's need to invest and make a profit. I also have a high respect for and will defend property rights, but I also believe that we are called upon by a sense of community and civic duty to do the just and right thing. I had hoped that the landowner would have heeded that call."
It’s sad to say but I think the farmers are going to lose this fight.